Why we're out of Left Unity
Statement from the Provisional Central Committee of the CPGB
Communist Platform supporters Jack Conrad and Yassamine Mather proposed the following motion to the Left Unity National Council meeting in Birmingham on February 20. It was overwhelmingly defeated, having received only their votes. On this basis comrades Conrad and Mather announced the dissolution of Communist Platform and our withdrawal from LU.
The CPGB, and Communist Platform supporters, have always thought that the idea dominant in Left Unity that there was a large political space to the left of Labour for a ‘broad party’ on a broadly left-Labourite platform and organisational principles was illusory. Jeremy Corbyn’s victory in the Labour leadership election blew up this illusion. Under the circumstances, the only possible future for Left Unity would be to build itself as an instrument of Marxist regroupment, on political and organisational principles which represent a clear alternative to Labourism; and to pose in relation to Labour the question of breaking the system of bans and proscriptions, in order to turn the Labour Party into a united front of the whole workers’ movement.
Since Corbyn’s victory a part of Left Unity’s members, including leading comrades, have ‘voted with their feet to leave LU and join Labour ’. Those who remain have been unwilling to address seriously the complete falsification of their perspective by the events in the Labour Party. It has become increasingly clear that they will never be willing to do so. The rejection of our motion by the NC – in the absence of any alternative proposal for serious rethinking – shows this clearly.
We remain of the view that what is needed is the struggle for a real communist party; and that simply joining Labour as Corbyn supporters or “entryism” is not a sufficient perspective. But the idea that Left Unity can hang on and at some point in the future sweep up disillusioned ex-Corbynistas is nonsense. By its refusal to rethink its perspective when its political analysis was flatly falsified, Left Unity has condemned itself to permanent irrelevance.
Motion for February 20 national council
Left Unity modelled itself on soft left anti-austerity organisations such as Die Linke, Syriza and Podemos. This went hand in hand with claims that the Labour Party was irreformable, had to all intents and purposes become just another capitalist party, etc. The operative conclusion being that there was a wide space on the left of the Labour Party for an organisation committed to the “spirit of 45”.
Because of the victory of Jeremy Corbyn, because of the decision of Momentum to emphasise internal battles and changing the Labour Party, because of the decision of Momentum to bar members of organisations which stand candidates against Labour, it is clear that Left Unity is now hopelessly adrift strategically.
Since the foundation of Left Unity national conferences have voted down motions sponsored by the Communist Platform that in their totality would have provided the vital elements of a Marxist programme. The last national conference soundly rejected the Communist Platform’s perspective of fighting for affiliation to the Labour Party and transforming the Labour Party, ie, into a permanent united front of the working class. The last national conference also soundly rejected moves to reorganise Left Unity so as to base it on the principles of democratic centralism.
At the last national council meeting we were informed that only national conference can alter Left Unity policy. That between conferences the national council exists merely to implement agreed policy (this was in the context of debating our attitude towards the EU referendum, ie, the call for an active boycott was in effect ruled out of order).
Hence, if Left Unity is to have any worthwhile future an emergency national conference must be called as a matter of extreme urgency. The emergency national conference must happen within one month. To ensure the maximum attendance of Left Unity members the emergency conference should be held in London.
There should be three main items on the agenda.
1. Labour. The existing attitude towards the Labour Party and Momentum were always mistaken. Fudging on whether or not to stand candidates against Labour is no longer sustainable. Left Unity should join those calling for the Labour Party to change its rules so as to once again allow political parties of the working class to affiliate. Left Unity must commit itself to radically democratising the Labour Party and equipping it with a genuine socialist programme (not a revival of the old Clause 4 state capitalism).
2. Organisation. Left Unity must be reorganised on the basis of the principles of democratic centralism: ie, unity in action, freedom of criticism. As part of that the direct election of principal speakers, media officer, national secretary, treasurer, etc, would be ended. National conference would elect the national council and the national council would appoint and replace officers as it sees fit.
3. Programme. Left Unity must arm itself with a Marxist programme, ie, something along the lines of the classic minimum-maximum programmes of the German Social Democratic Party, French Workers’ Party, the Russian Social Democratic Party, etc.